I’m not just talking about those tips…I’m talking about some helpful hints that will come in handy next time you belly up to the butcher counter.
- Cut it out – Just like that sparkly rock on your finger or in your ears, “cut” is one of the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to buying meat. Luxury cuts come from the back of the animal—from the rump, rib or loin. These are usually more tender than working cuts (those that come from the front) and take less time to cook. Working cuts should be cooked over low heat, for longer periods of time.
- Don’t lose your marbles! – Yes, we all know that lean meat can be the healthier way to go. But…a little bit of fat on your meat can go a long way with flavoring. A piece of meat that has some nice flecks of white fat throughout is said to be “marbled”—and that fat will keep it from drying out on the grill. My personal favorite? A good marbled ribeye, marinated in Stubb’s Beef Marinade. Cooked just right, and those bites of fat melt like butter in your mouth! (And speaking of butter…if you have a really lean cut of meat, spread a little bit of butter on it before grilling it—it adds flavor and keeps it from getting too dry!)
- Touchy feely – Poking isn’t just on Facebook folks! (Do people still do that?) Test out the beef or pork by poking it—good, fresh meat should neither be too tough nor too soft. If it doesn’t spring back when you poke the center, it might not be the freshest piece on the platter.
- True colors – Another diamond similarity…color! When you’re picking out beef, you want a piece that is darker red—this usually means that it’s freshly cut. If you’re on the hunt for white meat, look for pink chicken and pork. (Something I’ve learned: when meat is first cut, beef is more purple than red—it starts to turn red when proteins inside the meat start to oxygenate.)
Finally, never be afraid to ask questions—your local butcher is the expert, and I’ve yet to come across one who isn’t happy to share his/her knowledge. From questions about how to grill to trimming cuts of meat for any budget, they’re always willing to help—so take them up on that offer…and enjoy!